My little brother gathered up his things, jeans, flannel shirts, sweatshirt at 4:30. Hat, scarf, gloves, current favorite toy, Transformer or remote control car or video game or Walkman, all haphazardly shoved into his duffel bag. By 5:00, he was always completely ready to go. His father was to pick him up at 6:00…it was his weekend.
He barely ate dinner on those nights, he was too excited. He was so quiet, playing in his mind the weekend ahead. He had been thinking about it all day. He would have two nights and two days until his father would bring him back home.
I remember how he sat at the dining room table, his feet not quite reaching the floor.
His dirty sneakers, worn, the white rubber trim flapping as he swung his antsy legs. Purchased too big to last just a bit longer, but worn before he even grew into them. Laces pulled tight, double knotted.
And he waited, focusing on his black digital watch as the minutes crept by.
He would alternately stare out the window, waiting to see his father’s headlights as he turned off the road and drove up the driveway, and put his head down on the table, intently listening for the sounds of his father’s tires as they crunched down the gravel driveway.
At 6:15, my brother would call him. Of course there would be no answer. He would tell himself that his father must be on his way to pick him up.
At 6:30, he would call him again. No answer. Perhaps he was just running late.
Again at 6:45, 7:00, 7:30, 8:00.
Finally he would reach his father, who would act genuinely surprised.
He had forgotten. His weekend? Really? Was my brother sure?
Well, it was so late. Perhaps they could just do it next weekend? No big deal, right? Okay, buddy?
As each weekend slipped away and my brother grew older, his response to his disappointment changed. From tears and anger, to withdrawal and deep pain wearing the cloak of indifference.
And each time his father overlooked him, a piece of my brother’s innocence broke away.
His willingness to believe in others, diminished.
I watched my once-tender and silly brother erode until the day arrived when his father was no longer his hero, until no one really was.
He was left behind, abandoned by his father, who had begun a new life, with new responsibilities and new children to look after.
A disposable boy, my brother.
This post is part of my NaNoWriMo memoir and is in response to both Red Writing Hood prompts at The Red Dress Club.